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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Patients’ rights group flags misleading IMA advertisement on criminal prosecution of doctors

The non-government group called People for Better Treatment (PBT) said the advertisement by the Indian Medical Association, the country’s largest body of doctors, had 'deceptively' created an impression that negligent doctors can no longer be criminally charged for causing the death of a patient

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 27.12.23, 06:25 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

A patients’ rights group has accused the Indian Medical Association (IMA) of trying to mislead the public through an advertisement that thanked the Prime Minister and home minister for “exempting” medical professionals from criminal prosecution in cases of medical negligence.

The non-government group called People for Better Treatment (PBT) said the advertisement by the IMA, the country’s largest body of doctors, had “deceptively” created an impression that negligent doctors can no longer be criminally charged for causing the death of a patient.

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The PBT, in a letter sent to the IMA on Monday, has requested the medical body to take “remedial measures” to correct what the PBT has described as a “false narrative” conveyed by the IMA advertisement.

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), a new criminal law passed by Parliament last week and intended to replace the 1860 Indian Penal Code, prescribes a maximum imprisonment of up to two years for doctors convicted of causing death by medical negligence.

For others, causing death by negligence — such as by rash or reckless driving — the maximum imprisonment is up to five years.

The IMA on December 22 released an advertisement that said: “We are thankful to Shri Narendra Modi Ji … and Shri Amit Shah Ji … for exempting the medical professionals from the criminal prosecution under 304 of IPC now 26 of BNS (death by rash or negligent act.)”

The advertisement’s content had surprised even some IMA members, one of whom has attributed it to a mix of “poor drafting skills” and “genuine gratitude” to the government for differentiating between medical negligence and other circumstances of death by negligence.

The PBT’s founder-president Kunal Saha, a US-based physician who provides guidance to patients or their relatives in India in cases of alleged medical negligence, said the group felt compelled to write to the IMA seeking a correction because the advertisement has caused confusion and frustration among ordinary citizens.

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